Taming the Mama Monster

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There are certain things about motherhood that drive me completely loon-crazy; that reduce me to a cartoonish, red-faced gremlin with steam pouring from my ears and lava spewing from my mouth. I’m not by nature choleric, but like every mom, I have buttons, which when pushed at the right moment by my dear, sweet offspring, elicit a T-Rex-like response. It is in those inevitable moments of conviction, post-angry-spew, that my imagination conjures up such exaggerated pictures of my monstrosity. However ludicrous, they always prove helpful in bringing me to my knees!

Cleaning my eight-year-old daughter’s room, or facilitating the process, is one of those things. It is the most odious task on my list, and often drives me to tears. My girl, in all her creativity and imaginative play (for which I love her dearly), has a knack for making the most tornadic messes as she invents (which I abhor with every thread of my being). Trying to pass through the aftermath is almost as crazy-making as motivating her to clean it! When faced with the task, she obeys initially, but becomes easily distracted by one of the thousand items strewn on her floor, and happily starts in creating a whole new adventure for herself; read: a whole new MESS.

Me? I just become overwhelmed and frustrated until I verge on exploding like the Hulk (because, honestly, I have no earthly idea where to begin the damage control either). At this point, I have to do some serious deep breathing and emergency prayer-intervention, a.k.a. “Mommy’s Time Out” (and I do not mean the wine by the same name). I’m talking good, old-fashioned removal of the fuming mama and relocation to the other end of the house for an intense cooling session, before someone gets hurt! Ahhhhhhhh. Perspective is an amazing thing.

There is no shame in this, fellow mommies. Several of my friends have admitted to shoving themselves into a locked bathroom when an eruption is imminent. Sometimes, el bano is truly a mom’s only refuge, in a child-overrun household! Another useful strategy is to murmur, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”, under one’s breath. It has this calming effect that is nothing short of, well, miraculous! “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)

So, why do I get so worked up over my daughter’s mess-lair, you ask? Well, if I were to dissect the problem, I suppose it would have something to do with the tremendous responsibility I carry to churn out a respectable human being in the small span of eighteen years, equipped with the most basic of life-skills. But, beneath that, lurking in my heart’s shadows amongst the dust bunnies, I suppose it really boils down to my pride. (Frown. Grimace.) Mixed with that most irritating she-is just-like-ME-in-this-area-and-I-just-can’t-deal-with-that factor! Oh, and a hefty self-control deficit. That’s all.

Through the years I have tried it all: I’ve spent a small fortune on organizational ingenuity at Target. I’ve filled donation bags to reduce the volume of potential mess making material. I’ve struck out on chore-chart crusades. I’ve piled things out of my daughter’s reach on her top closet shelves, to be taken down strictly on a mom deems-it-necessary basis. I’ve begged and pleaded, shamelessly. I’ve lectured the poor girl ‘til we were both blue in the face. But to no avail. I’ve watched my sundry schemes nose-dive in futility, one after the other. She still lives (contentedly) in a mess. And I remain a hot mess over it (no pun intended).

Yes, my daughter’s messy room is a Mama Monster trigger for me. True, it is legitimately exasperating when my children fail to respond favorably to my broken record reprimands. But that doesn’t mean I have to let it repeatedly rob me of my joy.

The bottom line is this: my daughter will probably always have this scatterbrained propensity, and it is OKAY. This is the way God made her, and she has many other strengths. I’m blessed to have a Mary for a daughter, in all my Martha-ness (with a little mess-dyslexia mixed in, for humility and good measure). Her joy level and exuberance for life trumps mine any old day, with my DustBuster in hand and my perpetual grumpy face! I’m praying a lot less yelling into her room these days, and a lot more laughter, mess or no!

We could all use, as mothers, to resist camping out on those molehills that seem so tremendously mountainous in the moment…and just let some things GO. (I am preaching to myself, here, sisters! I have admitted before and I will again, that I am a recovering control-freak!) We MUST get a grip. For the good of our families. To maintain an atmosphere of tranquility in our homes. To keep from breaking our little one’s spirits. God, help us! There’s a lot at stake!

We all have something that brings out the Mama Monster in us, causing our children and every living thing in our path to run for cover. Perhaps this is by design…it keeps us Christ-seeking mommies humble, and utterly dependent on our Father, reducing us to the child, and He, the patient (in His case) parent.

Come to the River…

“God, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can’t wait!” Psalm 102:1-2 (Message)

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, not can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8 (NIV)


What are your Mama Monster triggers? Identifying them is the first step towards change! Let’s proactively bathe our triggers in prayer, so that the next time our buttons are pushed, we respond with life and peace!

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